Choosing the Right Fabric Brand for Your Curtains

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When it comes to sewing curtains for your home, one of the most important aspects to consider is the fabric. While lightweight, traditional drapery fabrics that are soft and blow in the breeze do look lovely in your home — and many people prefer the look of light, airy curtains — here at Sailrite®, we’ve found that heavier weight upholstery fabrics work great for curtains in your home, boat, RV and on your patio. Heavier upholstery fabric is more durable and will hold up better over the years than a lighter drapery fabric. Upholstery fabrics also hold pleats nicely, adding depth and dimension to your curtains.

Once you decide that you want an upholstery fabric for your curtains, there’s another factor to consider: Which brand of upholstery fabric do you choose? There are so many fabrics out there, and it can be hard to know where to begin and what considerations you should account for. Do you need a curtain that’s easy to clean? What about fade resistance and noise reduction? When it comes to fiber content, do you prefer natural materials (cotton and linen) or synthetics (polyester, acrylic and olefin)? We’ll discuss all of this to help you find the ideal upholstery fabric for your DIY curtains.

The Best Fabric Brands for Curtains

For the best-looking curtains, we recommend choosing a high-quality upholstery fabric that drapes well. Brands like Sunbrella®, Waverly®, Covington, Hamilton and Bella-Dura® have excellent fabrics in a variety of solids and patterns. Using a heavier weight upholstery fabric will give your curtains more body and fullness, resulting in a very pleasing look. Upholstery fabric will also bring out the depth and drama of the pleats, as well as provide a layer of insulation that thinner drapery fabrics can’t offer. Another benefit is that heavier fabrics won’t wrinkle as easily as lightweight linen, satin or sheer cotton, and they tend to be easier to clean and require less maintenance compared to traditional drapery fabrics.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the qualities and attributes of each fabric brand to help you select the right fabric for your needs:

Bella-Dura: Made from 100 percent synthetic polyolefin, Bella-Dura performance fabrics offer 1,500 lightfast hours of UV fade resistance. Curtains made from Bella-Dura can be hung in a sun-facing window without fear of fading or UV damage. Bella-Dura fabrics also boast 50,000 double rubs, meaning they can withstand abrasion better than some other upholstery fabrics. They’re also water resistant, which helps prevent stains and makes them easier to clean than some other brands. Bella-Dura’s selection of indoor/outdoor textured solids, tweeds, animal prints and geometrics would look great in any home or patio.

A selection of Bella-Dura fabrics.

Covington: With a wide variety of fiber contents, including cotton, bamboo, polyester, viscose and various fiber blends, Covington upholstery fabrics have something for everyone. Stain resistant and offering a wide variety of patterns and colors, these fabrics will stand up to abrasion to bring lasting beauty and style to your home. Covington Outdoor is their line of outdoor upholstery fabrics offering excellent fade and UV resistance. They’re also treated with an antimicrobial and water-repellent finish, making them perfect for patio, boat and RV curtains. Most Covington fabrics are dry clean recommended, however, so they aren’t as low maintenance as other fabric brands.

A selection of Covington fabrics.

Hamilton: Hamilton’s selection of high-end, designer-look upholstery fabrics will complement any room in your home and will bring a pop of style and personality to your curtains. From bright prints and colorful florals to textured, down-to-earth neutrals, there’s a fabric for every home décor. Hamilton fabrics are intended for indoor use only, and most are dry clean recommended. They are not as abrasion resistant as other brands, so if you’re concerned about high traffic use or if you have children and pets, Hamilton might not be the best fit for your curtain needs.

A selection of Hamilton fabrics.

Sunbrella: The undisputed king of the marine textile industry, Sunbrella brings the same great qualities as their marine offerings to your home with their vast selection of high-quality upholstery fabrics. These 100 percent solution-dyed acrylic fabrics won’t visibly fade, making them perfect for sunrooms and south-facing windows, which receive the most sunlight throughout the day (if you live in the northern hemisphere). Sunbrella upholstery fabrics are indoor/outdoor fabrics, so they’ll look just as great on your porch or patio as in your living room. They’re also stain resistant and easy to clean if you have messy kids or pets to consider. With hundreds of fabrics in every style and color imaginable, in stock and ready to ship, you’ll be tempted to make new curtains for every room in your home.

A selection of Sunbrella fabrics.

Waverly: Waverly upholstery fabrics provide excellent resistance to tearing, abrasion and tension, and come in an endless array of styles, including eye-catching swirls, florals, polka dots and geometrics. If you’re going for understated and timeless curtains, Waverly also offers muted solids and softly embroidered designs that will never go out of style. Waverly’s Sun N Shade outdoor fabric collection is perfect for those wanting to create privacy curtains for their porch or patio and to make their outdoor living space more inviting and colorful.

A selection of Waverly fabrics.

Lining Fabrics: It’s very important to line the back of your curtains with a lining fabric. This will preserve the lifespan of your main fabric and cover up the fabric’s non-patterned, unattractive back side. A lining fabric will also make your curtains look fuller and help them drape beautifully. Lining fabrics also provide insulation, reducing your home’s heating and cooling costs. Roc-Lon® EconoSheen™ Drapery Lining Fabric is an affordable choice for lining interior curtains. It’s water-repellent and offers exceptional wrinkle resistance so it requires little, if any, touchup ironing. If you love your patterned or solid-color upholstery fabric and want the same fabric on the back side, you can use your main fabric as a lining as well to create reversible curtains. This will be more expensive than choosing a lining fabric, however.

Blackout Fabrics: Blackout fabrics are designed to block light from windows for a darker environment for sleeping, watching movies and more. Blackout curtains are most often used in bedrooms and media rooms, but they can be used in any room where you want extra insulation and privacy; they’re also great for dampening outside noise. You can add blackout fabric as a lining to any decorative fabric — instantly turning a decorative fabric into blackout curtains — or you can sew curtains just from blackout fabric. Europatex and Roc-Lon offer blackout fabrics in shades of neutral grays, whites, creams, light browns and soft greens.

A selection of blackout fabrics.

A Discussion on Fabric Material

Another aspect to consider when choosing the right fabric for your curtains is the fiber content. Sailrite’s selection of upholstery fabrics come in a wide variety of fiber contents, including cotton, linen, polyester, acrylic, olefin, rayon, and numerous blends of natural and synthetic fibers. Let’s explore the qualities and characteristics of each fiber to help you find the right fabric that fits your lifestyle and your home.

Synthetic Fabrics (Polyester, Acrylic, Olefin)

For homes with kids and pets, you’ll want to choose a synthetic fabric for your curtains. These materials are durable, dependable and worry-free. Most synthetic fabrics can be cleaned with a water-based solution; however, some polyesters are dry clean recommended, so be sure to check what the cleaning recommendations are if that is a deciding factor for you. All of our blackout curtain fabrics are 100 percent polyester, making them excellent at noise reduction, energy efficiency and total sunlight blackout. Blackout curtains are perfect in bedrooms and media rooms.

Sunbrella and Bella-Dura, our solution-dyed acrylic and polyolefin offerings, are by far the most low-maintenance fabrics we sell. We highly recommend them for their thermal qualities — they’re thicker than other curtain fabrics to keep out the cold. They’re easy to spot clean with mild soap and water, and they offer unbeatable fade resistance so you can hang curtains in a room that receives a lot of sunlight without the worry of your curtains’ color fading and dulling after a few years.

Because these fabrics are solution-dyed, they have color on both sides (as opposed to the pattern just being printed on one side of the fabric), which means that some of them — depending on the fabric’s pattern — are reversible, so you wouldn’t have to add a lining fabric if you didn’t want to. Due to the fact that the fabric is thicker, these curtains would be a bit harder to train, but once you train them they will hold their shape and drape beautifully — better than lighter weight fabrics.

Natural Fabrics (Cotton, Linen)

It’s tempting to assume that natural fibers are always better, but that’s not necessarily the case. Cotton curtains drape well, especially if backed with a lining fabric, and offer a crisp, clean feeling to your home. A lighter weight cotton, though, has a tendency to wrinkle more easily than synthetic fabrics, and most cottons are dry clean recommended, which isn’t convenient for every home and budget. Many of Sailrite’s cotton fabrics are highly abrasion resistant, but they are indoor only fabrics. If you’re looking for patio or outdoor curtains, we recommend a synthetic indoor/outdoor fabric.

Sailrite’s linen offerings include fabrics from P/Kaufmann and Williamsburg. Linen is known for its luxuriously soft hand and rich feel. Patterned linens are usually screen printed, which means the pattern is only printed on the right side of the fabric, so the fabric is not reversible. Linen has a lower double rub rating than more durable synthetic fabrics, so it’s not recommended for high traffic areas such as living rooms, kitchens and family rooms. It’s also an indoor only fabric, so it’s not suitable for patio or porch curtains. Linen wrinkles very easily and needs specific care and cleaning, but it holds dye well, resists pilling and does not create static electricity, unlike some synthetics.

Blended Fabrics

Offering the best of both worlds, blended fabrics are a fantastic option when you don’t want to compromise on the specific fiber traits you’re searching for. When combining a synthetic with a natural fiber, the result is a stronger, more durable fabric. A polyester/cotton blend marries the abrasion resistance of cotton with the tear resistance and longevity of polyester. It’s less prone to pilling and static (side effects of 100 percent polyester) and will keep its shape and color longer than an all-cotton upholstery fabric.

Velvet curtains add a sense of richness and luxury to your home. Velvet is not actually a fabric; it’s a term used to describe the weave of the material. Most of our velvets are blends of polyester, cotton and viscose. Velvet is a great fabric option for curtains as it’s a highly abrasion-resistant and long-lasting fabric. In fact, P/Kaufmann’s line of velvet fabrics has a wear rating of 201,000 double rubs. Velvet is a heavy fabric, so it will drape nicely, keep out the cold, and block sunlight almost as effectively as blackout curtains.

A selection of velvet fabrics.

Now that you have a better understanding of which curtain fabrics will work best in your home and fit your family and lifestyle, now comes the fun part of picking the perfect fabric! From solids and stripes to geometrics and bold patterns, we’ve got a great selection of upholstery fabrics to fit every style and home décor. Be sure to explore the brands listed above for the highest quality upholstery fabrics in the industry. And remember, we offer samples of our upholstery fabrics if you want to see and feel the fabric in person before ordering yardage.